( Minneapolis, Minnesota )
Postcard from the Upper Peninsula
I met you where there are no people
and people cannot grow: a coast (we were summer) where winter
thins pines to arrowshafts, carves
rock for arrowheads.
Your name, my
name, things wind took
from us even as we offered them.
As any gift between us would be.
The pine trees. Given a map
of the bright moon we searched
for the marked seas: sea of rains, of clouds,
a vacation spot, we could have had a cottage, sea
Where we met, no house. No garden. Only the beach
with its jutting bones, ribs of something huge,
which I see now for the first time
in this photograph:
us, aglow, arms
entangled; behind, the deep-water lover winter
wrecked the year before.
White winter fox, you say
the men I used to kiss
have shifted coats,
like you, and dug tight
dirt-pack dens. But why
hide from the weather:
ice tickles the skin, tears
harden to jewels, and frost
burns, a purer fire.
On the way to this gallery I hit a dog.
No tag, had the mange, bones
showing like clothes hangers. What could
I do but help his carcass off the road, clean
the bumper of my black sedan of blood, pluck
him one dandelion,
a yellow reckless head.
Thank you, I’ll have a glass of red. I’d forgotten
all about it until now. Why do we expect
any dignity in death—
it has no survival value; a road,
gas station bathroom, any place
as good as any other. This
soiree, these long-stemmed
flutes, this effervescent eve—
none of it assures anything.
Look at the painting,
this new acquisition we’re celebrating. Black
ingot of ground, gray wall above, purple gleam
hung between—some glory, but all
near ground level.
The long thigh-veins of the land
lie open, the moon
presses its sickle to the hip. As far away as the satellite
man who spins the Requiem this Saturday night, you
drink your claret, tide it
against the glass wall. I lean
against my table, maple blood
from the thick plank of dead
wood staining my shirt placket. I thought I was done
until you called
again. Until you breathed
I thought you were dead to me and I
didn’t care. I thought I had spent it all
until I learned to borrow. I thought I was a free
woman until the earth
turned on its back, defenseless
Fragment from the Middle of a Sequence
We the wind-gluttons
broached in the lake.
Learning to drive but we don’t know
any of the bright roads home—
hand over hand the halyard in,
the bright umbilical cord between. . .
The mechanism at the inside of your wrist
a crank, raising what; wind,
and sails fatten like fed wives, rope
chafes my hands red as with
your kiss: two hands
on the wheel and lightning, I could never
see the road for you—
stones tumbled smooth
in the child’s toy, who’s to say
while they turn which
is the emerald—
Next - Ann Lederer
Current Issue - Winter 2005